Happiness is not something one achieves. Happiness, at least sustained happiness, is elusive. It’s a moving target.
If we assume the opposite is true and one can ‘achieve’ happiness; that happiness is now a destination rather than a path or journey. Happiness becomes a thing, an object — a noun.
What would that look like?
Once achieved, it would be over. There’s only one place to go — to no longer have it and therefore be unhappy.
. . .
Ironically, the work of being happy is internal. It’s incumbent on oneself to become happy. It’s not up to others to make you happy. Happiness is fully within one’s control, independent of external input, validation, achievement, or societal acceptance.
Many go searching for happiness outside themself. They look to others, to the world, to make them happy. In doing so they blame ‘others’ for their being unhappy. They want happiness, they just don’t know how to get it.
The ultimate happiness is the absence of the need to attain it; to effortlessly experience it.
A solution (not the solution, as there can be many) is to stop pursuing happiness and let it find you; to not force it into occurring and simply allow it to happen.
How do I do that?
Pay attention. Be in (just) the moment. Listen. Understand that it’s the pursuit of happiness that brings happiness. It’s not the end point of an effort or journey, it’s the journey itself.
People are in love with, in search of, the ideal of being happy. Few are in love with the process of becoming happy. Yet it’s the process and its associated purpose that can make you happy. Those who find happiness often do it by unselfishly helping others to be happy (credit to Viktor Frankl and his “Man’s Search for Meaning”).
“The more a wolf forgets himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another wolf to love–the more wolf he is and the more he actualizes himself.” — Man’s Search for Meaning
Another way to look at this is to not make oneself the center. Give up yourself for others, and make them the center. Help them and you’ll be helping yourself.
The more you work for happiness the more it can evade you. In this, happiness is a paradox, contradictory to how one would think it can be experienced. Allow it to happen and it will. Force it and it won’t.
Unfortunately, some people are uncomfortable with happiness. They so infrequently experience it that when it occurs they either don’t recognize it or it scares them. Their more comfortable being unhappy than happy. They don’t know how to react or behave in a state of happiness. It’s strange to them.
Yes, you can become happy, pick a path, and enjoy the journey whatever the outcome. You may then find you were happy all along.
. . .
Quotes on Happiness
- “Happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts” — Marcus Aurelius
- “Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.” — Unknown“There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path” — Buddha
- “Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.” — Zhuangzi
- “To be truly happy and contented, you must let go of the idea of what it means to be truly happy or content. ” — Liezi
- “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne
- “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
- “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama
- We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.”— William James
- “If you want to be happy, be.”– Leo Tolstoy
- “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”– Frederick Keonig
- “Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.”–Hosea Ballou
- “How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now, and there will never be a time when it is not now.”– Gerald Jampolsky
- “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”— Greg Anderson
- “Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”— Frank Tyger
- “Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not to be picked in strangers’ gardens.”– Douglas Jerrold
- “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”– Mahatma Gandhi
- The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”— Henry Ward Beecher
- “Happiness is a how, not a what. A talent, not an object.” — Herman Hesse
- “Happiness comes in waves. It’ll find you again.”—Unknown
- “Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.”—Rose Lane
- “Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.”– John Harrigan
- “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”– Charles Spurgeon
- “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”— Thich Nhat Hahn
- “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”— Margaret Lee Runbeck
- “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”— Unknown
- “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. There is no way to peace, peace is the way. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
- “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”—Maxim Gorky
- “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”— Dennis Waitley
- “Be happy with what you want. Be excited about what you get.” — Alan Cohen
- “Be happy with what have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”— William E. Gladstone
- “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of your will.”— Epictetus
- “True happiness is an acceptance of life as it is given to us, with its diminishment, mystery, uncontrollability and all.”— Michael Gellert
- “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”— Aristotle
This post was previously published on Steve C’s blog.
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